Manifesto outlines series of measures to boost UK’s tech industry.
The next Government must create a digital trade czar and double small business investment to establish Britain at the forefront of digital innovation, it is claimed.
Think tank TechUK has sought to outline exactly what the next Government must do to boost Britain’s technology industry in its manifesto, ‘Securing our Digital Future: The techUK Manifesto for growth and jobs 2015-2020’, released today.
It claims the next five years are crucial for the UK and calls on the next Government to adopt a series of measures designed to boost small businesses and create a million new jobs.
TechUK wants government to double funding for the Small Business Research and Innovation Fund (SBRI) to £400m by 2020, to help the body boost links between government and SMBs.
This measure would be helped by increased investment in innovation and a ring-fenced science budget, while the tech skills gap must be narrowed by upping the average £175 per school budget for computer science lessons, TechUK recommending an extra £20m to aid implementation of new curriculums.
These measures could help fill up to one million new tech jobs expected by 2020, the organisation said.
TechUK also called on the next Government to create a digital trade czar based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to oversee an increase in tech exports, aiming to at least double their value to £62bn come 2020.
TechUK said it is working with more than 1,000 tech firms itself to help them export by the end of 2015, with the help of UK Trade and Investment.
This news comes after the National Audit Office said Britain’s National Cyber Security Programme was failing to deliver promised economic benefits to the UK in the form of exports.
The manifesto also claimed that the Coalition’s immigration policies are harming the tech industry, and has called on this Government’s successor to adopt a "smart immigration" policy.
This would reinstitute the two-year post study work visa, remove caps on graduate entrepreneur visas and extend the exceptional talent visa beyond startups.
Meanwhile, the manifesto claims too many startup clusters are based around London and South East London.
It identified burgeoning startup clusters in Bristol, Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester as in need of Government help to grow, mirroring recent remarks made by Tech City UK’s new chief, Gerard Grech, about digital innovation not being confined to London.
Other measures include establishing a chief privacy officer in Government to boost public trust in goverment use of people’s data, as well as making digital a key part of all ministers’ portfolios.
Julian David, CEO of TechUK said: "Tech and digital have a fundamental role to play in almost everything the next government will need to do, as we continue to rebuild our economy for the 21st century.
"There’s no doubt we are moving in the right direction. The next five years must be about bringing greater scale and pace to the digital transformation of our country. From skills to infrastructure, digital government to digital health, we have to think big and get the job done.
"Get it right and the action we take over the next five years can secure our digital future for the next thirty."